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  •  I got interested in boron [Borax] about a week (6+ / 0-)

    ago, because I was googling for information on bitter beets. One page suggested putting a little in the watering can and diluting with a gallon or two. Water and wait a day. I am waiting till the deluge this weekend coming up from Baja California is gone, then I will try another.

    Then there is this bizarre page about it.....

    There is no they, We will sink or swim together.... We are here to awaken from the illusion of our separateness

    by GDbot on Fri Aug 23, 2013 at 03:39:57 PM PDT

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    •  okay that's wierd (6+ / 0-)

      and way long. There's a storm coming our way in about an hour I think from looking at the radar. We're still behind on average annual rain but so far ahead of last year that it feels almost lush. Everyone is putting in fall gardens and some of the summer ones are producing. Unfortunately mostly zucchinni, meh. I do have a new recipe to try that actually sounds promising and doesn't involve cheese.  

      "If you don't know where you are going, any road will get you there." Lewis Carroll

      by Wordsinthewind on Fri Aug 23, 2013 at 04:13:03 PM PDT

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    •  No No No No No! (4+ / 0-)

      Sorry to be vehement.

      Borax is 11% boron by weight.  Normal soil levels for most plants range between 0.7 PPM and 1.5 PPM, and sensitive plants die above 1.5.  Hardy plants die above 5 PPM.

      Google photos of Boron, California (where most municipal boron is mined).  Notice the total lack of greenery except the football stadium and other treated soils?  Exactly.  That soil is sterile.

      Will you kill the beets with this?  No.  Or not the first time, the second, or the tenth.  The hundredth?  That's more likely.  You'd probably see a small year by year decrease in production until suddenly nothing will grow there any more.

      You'll create a zone where the soil is toxic, and it takes up to a decade to wash out of most soils (Boron, CA is kind of screwed as there's tons in the soil there).

      We do use borax and other sources of boron (most notably Solubor) to fix boron deficiencies in the soil, but amounts are typically in the 1-2 tablespoon per thousand square feet range.

      So no, adding borax to garden watering regimens is not a good idea.

      Boron is actually THE single touchiest nutrient in the soil with a very fine range between sufficient and toxic.  It's one that we tell people if they're not completely comfortable dealing with this kind of thing, ignore it.

      As far as human health, the only thing we've found in rats is that, if completely deprived of dietary boron, growth is a little slower and the rats end up a little smaller.  No other change is noted in lifespan, cancer risk, or anything else.

      Humans, like rats, probably synthesize one or more growth hormones from it, but obviously there are alternate pathways or growth would be more severely impacted.  Only trace amounts would be required as that's all we ever get anyway.

      In plants, boron is used in the photosynthetic chain and also in some hormone production.  Low boron doesn't stop photosynthesis or growth, but does slow it down a bit and require the use of alternate (more inefficient) paths to finish the job.  Only tiny amounts are required.

      (-6.38, -7.03) Moderate left, moderate libertarian

      by Lonely Liberal in PA on Fri Aug 23, 2013 at 06:13:05 PM PDT

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      •  I knew I could get some triangulation from you, (4+ / 0-)

        and I did notice that adding a LITTLE, like a tablespoon to a gallon or two of water, no more than once every three years was recommended. [To let it wash out and not build up.] I live on a hillside with fairly good, quickly draining soil so I don't think there will be a problem managing soil concentrations. Thank you for your insight, I will take help from anywhere, even from people who think I might be a bot 'un'sane.

        There is no they, We will sink or swim together.... We are here to awaken from the illusion of our separateness

        by GDbot on Fri Aug 23, 2013 at 07:06:24 PM PDT

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        •  "bit". Right? eom (5+ / 0-)

          There is no they, We will sink or swim together.... We are here to awaken from the illusion of our separateness

          by GDbot on Fri Aug 23, 2013 at 07:07:05 PM PDT

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          •  Close enough (4+ / 0-)

            And no, not insane.  You wouldn't know unless you asked, eh?  There's actually a formula floating around out there to kill creeping charlie with borax.

            It works...by rendering the soil boron-toxic to the stuff.  It just happens that grass' sensitivity is much lower, although it'd be easy to accidentally go overboard and render that patch sterile for several years until it washes out.

            (-6.38, -7.03) Moderate left, moderate libertarian

            by Lonely Liberal in PA on Fri Aug 23, 2013 at 07:42:58 PM PDT

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        •  Connecticut, yes? (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          GDbot, anodnhajo, Wordsinthewind

          It's highly probable you have a low boron soil (most soils that see decent rainfall tend toward low boron).

          1 tsp/gal every 3 years would be fine, but I wouldn't go much above that without a soil test.  You might have one of the "Boron OK" soils out there, although I'd say that 80% of the soil tests I've seen from the Northeast are a little to a fair bit short on boron.  A rare few are boron-deficient, but you have to be under 0.20 PPM for that.

          Desert soils tend to be high on boron, with central soils simply being "it depends."

          My own soil is at 0.67 PPM and being nudged gently toward 0.80 or so.  That's a change of 130 parts per billion.

          My mother, with a sandier soil that also features less organic matter, had a boron level of 0.25 PPM before correction.  It's still not deficient, but it's rather lower than it should be for optimal growth.

          One at-home method to increase boron safely is to mulch the plants.  All plant material, be it straw or newspaper or compost or shredded wood, contains boron and will happily supply it as it continues to decay to the plants in a slow, even drip that won't cause problems.

          Really, organic material is the solution to a lot of minor problems.  And for the most part, boron levels tend to be minor.  While levels are almost always imperfect, they're within "spit and holler" range of workable.

          Like I said, boron's the touchiest element to change safely, running somewhat touchier than copper and MUCH touchier than zinc or manganese.

          Which are the four touchiest.  All the major resources like phosphorus, potassium, calcium, magnesium (not manganese!) have extremely wide ranges of sufficiency or luxury consumption before going toxic...and not all of those will ever go toxic.  You can raise decent plants in ground limestone and organic matter without worrying a bit about calcium toxicity.

          (-6.38, -7.03) Moderate left, moderate libertarian

          by Lonely Liberal in PA on Fri Aug 23, 2013 at 07:35:04 PM PDT

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          •  I believe GDbot resides in AZ (4+ / 0-)

            I'm stuck in Little Egypt. I swear there's a guy who has a Confederate battle flag flying in front of his house near here. Reluctant to take a pic of it, and would be even more reluctant to post it if I did.

            "on a quiet night of a white hot day, whisper the things that will come our way"

            by anodnhajo on Fri Aug 23, 2013 at 07:54:35 PM PDT

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            •  AZ would depend. (4+ / 0-)

              The southwestern part of the state is very low rainfall, with a central ridge of moderate rainfall and most of the state is low but not very low rates.  Thanks, NOAA!

              A garden in the SW would likely be high to very high boron while elsewhere would be unknown without a test (but I'd guess modest levels if you made me do so).

              Anywhere in the state would have a much better chance of being OK to high boron than, say, anywhere in the northeast or central Atlantic states.

              (-6.38, -7.03) Moderate left, moderate libertarian

              by Lonely Liberal in PA on Fri Aug 23, 2013 at 08:05:04 PM PDT

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    •  Now that I think about it some more..... (3+ / 0-)

      I chased some ants out of my house with some RoachAway and peanut butter filled straws last year or the one before. It probably isn't a boron deficiency I am dealing with.

      There is no they, We will sink or swim together.... We are here to awaken from the illusion of our separateness

      by GDbot on Fri Aug 23, 2013 at 08:35:27 PM PDT

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